The Preakness Stakes (gr. I) packed a crowd of 121,263 throught the historic gates of Pimlico Race Course, the largest crowd to witness a sporting event in the state. Attendance figures topped six-figures in eight of the last nine years, including seven straight. The wagering on Preakness day topped out at more than $87.2 million, the fourth largest amount wagered in the 132-year history of the race. More than $57 million was wagered on the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.
The 22nd annual Maryland Million drew a new record crowd of 26,788 on a picture perfect October afternoon. The handle figures neared $6 million with a record $5,985,793 on the 12-race Laurel card that shattered the record of $5 million set in 2005. The $3.9 million total wagered on the ten-race Fall Festival Of Racing card in November occurred on a day that featured four added money races, showcased by the Grade I Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.
In 2007, the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association agreed to reduce purses and the stakes schedule for the second half of the 2007 racing campaign, due to an industry shortfall of $3 million. The 2008 Laurel Park winter meeting was reduced by 15 days in order to compete with surrounding states who have utilized slot machines to increase purses.
“We are facing many challenges in 2008, and are hopeful that several opportunities are realized for the industry as well,” said Chris Dragone, Maryland Jockey Club President and General Manager. “We look forward to working with all interested parties in strengthening our industry in the coming year.”
Figures representing the 17-week Laurel Park fall meeting showed a decrease of 3.3 % compared to a year ago. The Laurel Park winter numbers were down 9%, and Pimlico spring were down by 7% from the previous year.